I came crashing into the Catholic Church in 1990, two years after reading St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s autobiography, The Story of a Soul. Having been blown away by Thérèse and her radical love, I recognized the truth of that love and knew my life had to radically change.
I thought it was impossible that I’d become Catholic. “ME — Catholic??” But when I realized that the sacrificial love I found so compelling in Thérèse was in fact the love of Jesus Christ, I knew the “impossible” was happening—I was going to be Catholic. My heart already was.
Before long, the rebel in me started to like the counter-cultural aspect of “crossing the Tiber.” Books like St. Faustina’s Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Catherine of Siena’s Dialogue, and St. Teresa of Avila’s autobiography were my early spiritual food. I became ambitious to be the best darn Catholic anyone had ever seen. And by absorbing the wisdom of the saints in their own words, I expected that with enough prayer and especially will power, I would make a bee-line to sanctity in, oh, a couple of years—tops.
Reality sets in
Problem is, bees don’t always fly straight. Or fast. They ascend, descend, zig-zag, and hover a lot. And they’re never so rich in pollen that they don’t have to go out in search of a supply for another day.
When it dawned on me that the saint thing wasn’t going to happen any time soon, the reality of two steps forward, one step back sank in. But with God’s grace, it’s a wavy line that tends upward, and that’s what matters.
Thirty-one years later, my spiritual journey still has its ups and downs. For example, during a vacation last month, I resolved to “schedule what’s important” for August. I made a calendar. The idea, which I got from Michael Hyatt, is to put things like adoration or exercise on the calendar first, so we have an “appointment” around which all our other demands are scheduled instead of winging-it day by day. But when I got home from vacation, I got busy and forgot about the calendar!
I found it a week later. Then I forgot about it again. I finally put it out where I could see it, but buried it under other papers. When it surfaced, I’d see what “important thing” was scheduled for tomorrow and think, “Well, I won’t have time for a whole hour of adoration—something else has come up.”
This past week I nearly crashed and burned. Well, I guess I did crash and burn. I answered a “reply all” email in a way that hurt people that I love and respect. I brought it to Confession and prayed to Our Lady Undoer of Knots, the Holy Spirit, St. Joseph, and my guardian angel to bring healing to any harm I had done. The celestial help kicked in a couple of days later when my apology resulted in a gracious reply.
That’s just my latest zig-zag.
But as the years go by, I put more emphasis on the steps forward (gratitude) and am more accepting of the steps back (humility). After all, they say it’s a sign of pride to be too surprised that we’ve done something boneheaded.
What about that calendar?
I’m grateful for the step-forward of making the calendar in the first place because it gives me a better shot of following it from now on instead of just “trying” to spend as much time praying as I need to.
Be assured that I am praying for you for the courage to take the next step forward in your spiritual journey. Please pray for me.
St. Augustine wrote to a woman friend named Proba about the importance of growing her prayer life (below). I hope it inspires you to pray before pressing “send”…and to schedule what’s important!
P.S. If you could use some inspiration and practical help in getting your prayer life back on track, help is on the way! Click here to learn more.
I always enjoy your readings…you show your humanness but get your message across.
Dear Rose, I’m 80, thankful every morning that I’m up and around with my two dogs who wake me around 5:15. My friends and I have been so depressed of late. In Syracuse we’ve had no sun in July or August, 19 inches of rain, can’t walk anywhere, can’t work in humidity, and even my solar watch dies. We all do our fair share of praying and go to Mass and Adoration. We read good novels and religious books as well. Rosary daily. Read emails from Bishop Barron, Morning Offering, Bible in a Year with Fr. Mike Schmitz, and my friends call me the Facebook evangelist for vocations and prayer. Our children are so busy that they forget about us. In fact if we didn’t have our dogs to talk to or call each other, we’d be more lonely than we are. I myself volunteer once a week at Emmaus kitchen making sandwiches. But what can we do to displace our boredom? Got any fasting ideas? Cheer us up, please. With love and hope, Loretta
Having grown up in Wisconsin, where it’s cloudy in the winter and the days are short, I’ve experienced the “depression” of not having enough sunlight. Which always came out as rage at the cold. I didn’t realize it was light deprivation until years later when I moved to the mid-Atlantic. Or if it’s not light deprivation for you, maybe it’s the boldness of evil around us these days. Whatever is bringing us down, the good news is that we have hope because we believe down to our toenails that God wants more than anything to love us up forever in heaven, and is doing so right now. Calling that to mind can bring a little heaven to this moment. To realize that staying cheerful, even for us cheerful people, takes ongoing effort has helped me put things in perspective. I’m betting that when you’re making sandwiches for other people the heaviness is lifted a bit. You have my prayers — please pray for me, too!
By FOCUSING time, I think I am doing that. I have a prayer that I say 1st thing in the morning. Thanking God for being able to see and hear. Then a few necessary things have to be done. Next – I am here. Daily morning prayers and asking for help for another day. My days are sometimes, busy and sometimes not. What ever happens during the day I am here again before I go to bed. I try to say a rosary every day. Sometimes I do & sometimes I don’t. I hope I am living how God wants me too, but I don’t always know. I’m almost 89 years old, and I wonder what else he wants me to do.
I am with you on that, Arlene — that focus on God is the key. Because it is the hardest thing. But it’s the best thing because then we can begin to see everything in His light.
Thank you Princess Rose for your wisdom ND encouraging words. Have a Blessed week ❤🙏👑
It is so comforting to read your words. Lonliness without my beloved spouse is my biggest thorn. Thank God for my God!
I,m with Loretta on this one. I had a cat that woke me up at 5:30am wanting his tuna. He was a gentle alarm clock but he just died of old age. The pandemic isolation has been severe. But I have the daily mass accompanied by a marvelous pianist who sings beautifully. We have coaxed her into playing an additional hymn or classical piece after each recessional.
Educated as a scientist I have Dorothy Parker’s formula: “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” It gets me into mild scrapes with the church but no more than for my patron saint Thomas Aquinas.
Great reflection, Rose! Thanks!
Thank you,Rose for all your uplifting words. My mother-in-law would always wake and pray “Thank you for this dayLord. I’ll go along with whatever you have in store for me today!”
Thanks Rose.. need your cheerful words. Feeling down & tired.
God bless you
Feeling down.. thanks Rose for your words!
You are as refreshing as your guests pictures and/or messages! I look forward to experiencing you. Thank you for all you are.